Atlanta-based Aloka’s textiles are inspired by tradition.
Aloka pillows in the new Red Rock color range. PHOTO BY LUKAS FRIEDRICH
For Monik Ladha, debuting to-the-trade textile line Aloka (alokahome.com) in 2020 was, naturally, an endeavor he couldn’t have planned for. But, a return to prioritizing the home, home life and thoughtful comforts has seemed to work in his favor: Aloka has had a smashing debut. Based around the concept of upcycling materials made of saris, Aloka aims to celebrate India’s textile tradition through a modern interpretation in pillows and quilts. “The textile tradition in India is vast, layered and expansive, dating back as far as the fifth century B.C. ... With any tradition, it comes in many flavors. Modern day, the textiles industry is one of the largest exports of India,” he explains. “We became fascinated with the tradition of repurposing—that ever-important mindset of finding new uses for things that may normally be discarded,” he adds. “Its relevance in today’s world has never been greater or more consequential: It’s something that must become fundamental. ... Do more with what exists versus always running to create something new.”
Sustainability in all its senses is at the heart of Aloka. Ladha says, “I read a book as the idea of Aloka was starting to shape that presented ‘natural resources’ as ‘natural capital,’” he explains. “It created a pretty significant shift in my thinking. Whether it’s product design, processing, material selection or evaluating capacities, we have the sustainability lens on.” It’s a daily practice to do everything from minimizing waste to handpicking every floor cloth that is used to make the pillows and quilts. “Our pieces are truly vintage and are between 60 to 80 years old,” he says. “We look for inherent potential in materials we repurpose. The most important thing has been keeping our hands on the material, learning about it, exploring the nuances and recognizing viable applications of these materials. Unlike a traditional manufacturing process, the materials we use have a history, condition and story of their own.”
“My family is from the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” Ladha continues. “It’s really the culture of food that connects India and the South. How it’s grown, prepared, preserved, used and, in some cases, reused. It’s that old-school way of doing things. It’s an appreciation of the slow-and-steady approach and a celebration of the inherent nature of the ingredient and what each season brings. I see a lot of that mindset finding its way into how we do what we do.”